Experienced Happiness and Remembered Happiness: Having It Both Ways

Experienced Happiness and Remembered Happiness: Having It Both Ways

Yet again, Psychology Today has published a fascinating article on happiness. In this story, Chris Peterson, one of the world’s most renowned and respected positive psychologists, writes about the difference and benefits of experienced happiness and remembered happiness. Read an exerpt below and enjoy…

by Christopher Peterson for Psychology Today

…when I was asked to join a research team embarked on something different, an approach we call positive psychology that calls upon the field to study those things that make life most worth living. The typical concerns of psychology with healing wounds are laudable and will remain as long as there are wounds to heal, but there is so much more to life than mitigating problems and easing someone out of a diagnostic category. Unfortunately, psychology has often little to say about the rest of life, and positive psychology tries to redress this balance by studying happiness and fulfillment, positive emotions, the state of flow, strengths of character, talents, passions and callings, and the various institutions – friends, families, schools, workplaces, religions – that enable flourishing

For our purposes today, I would like to draw on work within positive psychology on happiness. Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman has made an important distinction between two types of happiness: (i) happiness as we experience it on a moment-to-moment basis; and (ii) happiness as we remember it after-the-fact.

Experienced happiness and remembered happiness are of course related-they correlate about .50 – but they are not identical. Kahneman uses the example of someone who attended a wonderful concert. At the very end of the concert, the musician misplayed a note – terribly. Kahneman recounts the reaction of someone in attendance. ‘It ruined the entire experience.’ In point of fact, the experience had already happened, and it had been wonderful. What had been ruined was the memory of the experience.

Much of the happiness research in positive psychology relies on life satisfaction surveys and as a result studied remembered happiness. Kahneman himself seems to privilege experienced happiness, wondering how well research on remembered happiness applies to experienced happiness.

Finding this interesting? The read the full and original article HERE